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Over 10,000 John Deere workers strike over wages, pension

Members of the local United Auto Workers union, hold large UAW letters during the St. Louis Labor Day Parade in St. Louis. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Members of the local United Auto Workers union, hold large UAW letters during the St. Louis Labor Day Parade in St. Louis. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Over 10,000 unionized John Deere workers went on strike early Thursday over lack of sufficient wages and pension.

Prior to the strike, the majority of workers for the tractor brand had rejected a contract proposal union negotiators had worked out with the company, The New York Times reported.

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Union negotiators said the deal provided "significant economic gains" and "the highest quality health care benefits in the industry," but workers said it failed to sufficiently increase wages and to provide a traditional pension to new employees, according to the Times. Workers also said it failed to substantially improve an incentive program they consider overly strict.

"Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules," Chuck Browning, the director of the United Auto Workers Union's Agricultural Implement Department said in a statement. "We stay committed to bargaining until our members' goals are achieved."

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Over 10,000 workers at the agriculture equipment maker's 14 plants, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois and one each in Kansas, Colorado and Georgia, were part of the strike.

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UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement "the almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere."

Meanwhile, the company vowed to continue working on negotiations.

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"We will keep working day and night to understand our employees' priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve," Brad Morris, the company's vice president for labor relations, said in a statement.

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